Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!

Tomatillos?

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

I've done a lot of reading on tomatillos in the past two days. Finding little bits of information on reseeding, growing, time to harvest, and even a good enchilada recipe. (I love New Mexican cuisine.)

I have failed the past two years to produce a crop of tomatillos. I have a limited growing area, and have always started from plants from HD. Bonnie Farms sells peat pots planted with tomatillos. I know they are expensive, but with as small a growing space as I have, the total doesn't come to much.

Even from what I've read, I still don't have an answer for my lack of production. It wasn't a solitary plant issue. Bonnie always plants two per pot. Possibly to overcome the self-infertile issue. Also, on their website, they say to plant 2/3 of the stem under ground as you would a tomato. Three years ago, In San Diego, I had a potted garden. The tomatillos grew supported in a cage to a nice sized plant. It bloomed, fruit set, and the largest of the husks grew to golfball size. The fruit only ever got the size of a small marble. Last year, now in Las Vegas and growing in the ground, same thing. Maybe last year some got to the size of a large marble. Though none ever came close to splitting the husk, even with waiting till first frost to hopefully get something that looked eatable.

Last year I started my garden by digging down 18 inches, sifted out anything larger than a quarter inch and mixed the remainder 50/50 with Kellog brand Amend from HD. It compacted some over the past year. To fill it up again I added year old compost from the pile I'd started the previous spring. Tilling it into the top four inches or so. I also added 50/50 sifted native/Amend. Then topped with mulch. This year I'm starting with two solitary plants from a local nursery. They are taller and more robust than the Bonnie Farms option. I planted them 2/3 deep, two feet apart, and cages are already in place.

Three years ago I fertilized with Vigoro, Tomato & Vegetable at 12-10-5. Last year I used Kellog Organic, Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb at 4-6-3 every two months. And Alaska fish emulsion at 5-1-1 every three weeks. I planned on using the same fertilizing regiment I used last year. Everything else in the garden produced just fine. Assorted tomatoes, assorted peppers, and onions were all fine.

I'm hoping for some advice this year. The help in local garden centers is often noncommittal. I was thinking of using some bone meal this year. I don't want to do the same as last year and hope for different results. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

I'm posting this in Beginner Gardening Questions and Tomato forums. If you see both, answer to either one.Thanks

David

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

yes ,,,,,,,higher phosphorus might do the trick....bone meal.
If you are not strictly organic, you can try the Miracle grow bloom booster or tomato grower..
I use both organic amenders and commercial fertilizers on everything I grow but this is my first year growing tomatillos.

Vista, CA

Dave, They grow very easily and cheaply down in Mexico where the growing seasons are so long. Have you checked to see if they do well as far North as you are? They may just need more time to fully grow out.

Ernie

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

daves_not_here - I wonder if you're being TOO good to your tomatillos and also maybe putting them out a little early. I grow lots of them every year here in MO, and we're a little further north than L.V., so that's not the problem.

Tomatillos are pretty much a weed. I've read that they traditionally weren't planted or cultivated in Mexico, at first they were just a weed that came up in the corn fields and the fruits were found to be good in salsas. They self-seed, prolifically, and once you've got 'em, you've got 'em. Every spring about a thousand of them come up as volunteers in my garden and I transplant a few to where I want them and till the rest under - I haven't bought any tomatillo seeds for at least ten years. As a "weed" they're not a problem, they've very easy to pull up or till under, and they transplant easily.

One thing I'd suggest is to quit buying tomatillo plants, get a pack of seeds, and sow them directly where you want them outdoors. They grow so quickly and easily from seeds, there's no need at all to start with seedlings. They're definitely a warm weather plant, and I know nights in L.V. can be cool until you really get into summer, so I wouldn't sow the seeds until May or even the first of June - they'll catch up. The plants are leggy and brittle and need support, but they're about as easy to grow as crabgrass. Quit being so nice to them - they'll like your hot summers if you keep them watered and other than that, they thrive on neglect. lol

Vista, CA

Dave,

If you have not already seen this Purdue report on the Tomatillo, it does seem to pretty well cover the subject.
Ernie

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mexican_husk_tomato.html#Origin and Distribution

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

that was nice reading Ernie.


husk maters are wild in my zone too but for some reason I have not seen any on my property. There will be soon.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

Yes, that was good reading.

Thanks for all the responses. I was hoping you would see this Ozark. I read some threads from '08 and knew you grew them with great success. I'll try from seed too at the suggested time and check the results from both plantings. The only other place I have though, is being saved for pumpkins. I did try some asparagus from bulbs(?) early this year and didn't see any results. Am I correct in thinking they can stay in the ground and will produce more next year? Also can I plant the tomatillo seeds in the same area while the asparagus is out of season? The area is in a different plot and will be easier to neglect. Mmwaahaha Except for water of course. Everything is on drip, with a timer. Emitters and duration can be changed as needed.

My last concern is the alkalinity of the soil here. It may not be as much of an issue, as I have brought in a lot of non-native amendments. I know I should have the soil tested at the local agg extension office. I've just been lazy. Are the testers available at garden centers accurate?

So it won't be a perfect experiment as there will be multiple different variables. I'll grow the transplants as planned with the extra phosphorus. And I'll grow the seeds with the extra neglect. That'll be tough though as I'm such a swell guy. lol I like to give.

I'll keep you posted on my, or rather the tomatillos, progress.

Thanks again! David

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Everything I ever read or heard said tomatillos were "related" to tomatoes.

Any-who........since I am on a tomatillo quest....I found lots of info at
http:/./www.tomatoville.com
http://www.tomatoville.com/forumdisplay.php?f=78
I am tempted to grow them in earthboxes.....undecided.

Happy Gardening

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Quote from daves_not_here :
Yes, that was good reading.

I did try some asparagus from bulbs(?) early this year and didn't see any results. Am I correct in thinking they can stay in the ground and will produce more next year?


Usually referred to as roots. They must stay in the ground. Asparagus is usually three years old before you can start harvesting it. The bed once established should last decades. No you can't plant other things in the asparagus bed because the asparagus ferns need to grow to provide food to the plant for the next season.


Quoting:

My last concern is the alkalinity of the soil here. It may not be as much of an issue, as I have brought in a lot of non-native amendments. I know I should have the soil tested at the local agg extension office. I've just been lazy. Are the testers available at garden centers accurate?


My reading says no.








This message was edited Apr 21, 2012 9:08 AM

Vista, CA

I have read several times on this forum that you should not harvest asparagus from a new bed for several years, and that probably holds true for commercial farms, but i have had successful beds both in Idaho and CA after harvesting the spears that are 3/8ths inch or bigger from the very first. As Spring progresses, there will be fewer of the collectible size, and the smaller ones, of course, should be left to turn into ferns and they will keep growing until a good frost.

I planted here last Spring and had a few meals from the bed last year, and this year we have harvested all we wanted this Spring, and still getting plenty. I keep thinking the large spears will stop coming up, but i keep being proved wrong. Some volunteer seedlings have come up this year that i am leaving, and none of those have been big enough to eat this year.

Bottom line, i would say if they are big enough, eat them, and the smaller ones will build the bed.

Ernie

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Cricket-tomatillos are realated to tomatoes as they are both in the Nightshade Family. However, they are basically weeds. Personally, I wouldnt waste the space of an EB on them. The only thing I know they need for sure is heat.

Ive grown asparagus in the same bed for about 10 years. My soil is also very Alkaline (limestone) but I add alot of Organic Material and they seem to do fine. I think the rootstock (?) I bought was 3 yrs old when I received it. Usually I just eat it raw.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Tomatoes use to be a poisonous weed too. Amazing how things turn out. I love reading the history on fruits and veggies. I have decided to just grow them in the garden. Purple on one end and green on the other end. 70ft apart.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

They do have very different growth habits. Potatoes are in the Nightshade Family too so even tho they are in the same Family the can be very different. I love reading about the plant lore, too. lol

Why are you growing them so far apart? Do you care if they cross pollinate?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Yes mam. I want to save seed.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

When you call me that I feel 1000 yrs old. LOL

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Yes, the varieties will cross easily - and it's not so much a question of saving seeds as of them self-seeding. As I've said, I haven't bought tomatillo seeds for at least ten years as volunteers pop up all over my garden every spring. Back in the 1990's when I was buying seeds, I sowed at least two different varieties of tomatillos in different years, maybe three. I know I grew the purple ones and the regular light green ones that ripen to yellow. I think I remember mail ordering seeds of a third variety that was supposed to bear large fruits.

The result is that now my volunteer tomatillos are some kind of mixture - light green ripening to yellow with purple stripes and highlights. Not a bad thing, I guess.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I was raised to say mam and sir or I got slapped. It's a habbit.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

A real nice lady friend of ours is a retired U.S. Army master sergeant. Young recruits sometimes didn't know to call her "sergeant" (which was correct), didn't want to call her "sir", and once in awhile one would call her "ma'am". When that happened, she'd add to the whole company's stress factor by yelling:

"Ma'am? MA'AM? DO I LOOK TO YOU LIKE I'M WEARING A #@*%& FEATHER BOA?"

Hehe. Like me, she's a big believer in making her own fun. :>)

Rancho Santa Rita, TX(Zone 8a)

ozark tks for makin me
chuckle out loud

I needed it

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I can definately say I AM NOT WEARING A #%*@& BOA. lol

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

whats a feathered boa?

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

http://www.thisnext.com/item/16A60E74/Buy-Feather-Boa-Fuchsia

Not all the pictures I found were appropriate for Davesgarden.

Mohrsville, PA(Zone 6a)

Quote from CricketsGarden :
whats a feathered boa?


A flying snake?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

LOL sam

OHHHHHHH a feathered scarf.......so to speak.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

Yep, I guess it gets cold in Las Vegas because lots of girls wear them hear. lol

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

Well, it looks like I might get a small harvest of tomatillos this year. One has even grown large enough to split the husk! There are some others that may split husks if frost holds off a little longer.

I believe the problem last year was a short amount of time between our scorching hot summer temps and our first frost. The plants grow well in the heat of the summer, but no fruit will set until temps start to cool a little. Tomatillos are described as attracting bees, though the bees also didn't arrive till temps cooled. At the same time our honeysuckle started to bloom proficiently, and was attracting bees as well. This year, in the part of town where I live, we have yet to have any frost. Until a week ago we were having unseasonably worm weather with overnight lows 10 above average.

Of course, now that the tomatillos are ripening, our Serrano peppers have stopped producing. I will have to buy some from the store to make any salsa. That's how it goes.:)

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.
BACK TO TOP